Caffeine Withdrawal – Doing It With Ease

by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

For many women, it may be easier to detox from caffeine a little at a time. Many times I will recommend a tapering method for my patients. It looks like this: first have a regular cup of coffee, then for your second serving, have a cup that’s half-regular and half-decaffeinated coffee. Any ratio will work – the withdrawal process will be easier on your body if you are methodical.

If you’ve never attempted to cut back on your caffeine consumption, you may not be aware of withdrawal symptoms. They can include fatigue, inability to focus, irritability, depression, sluggishness, daytime drowsiness and the most common of all headaches. Most who suffer from a ‘caffeine headache’ will report a throbbing, pressure filled headache.

If you drink caffeine throughout the day, you may want to consider limiting caffeine to the morning hours. Morning intake is less likely to interfere with your normal cortisol pattern – and therefore less likely to interfere with sleep.

A great tip for cutting down on caffeine is to drink a big glass of water or a cup of herbal tea, before you take in any caffeine. Eat your breakfast as soon as possible, – be sure to include adequate protein. If you still want your usual caffeinated drink have it! If a second cup is needed, start your taper.

Some people may notice a change in bowel function during this caffeine transition period. Dietary fiber encourages bowel function, which sometimes slows down during caffeine withdrawal. Fiber promotes good bacterial balance in the digestive tract.

Your liver is responsible for breaking caffeine down for elimination from your body. I recommend my patients support their liver with nutritional supplement to help it through this detox process.

The supplements I recommend are:

  • Vitamin C (which supports adrenal function and helps with withdrawal symptoms)
  • Milk Thistle
  • Tracel Minerals
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Amino Acids
  • N-acetyl cysteine
  • B Vitamins

You can also help support your liver by eliminating toxins or allergens from your diet. Be sure to eat enough protein. Follow an alkaline diet – this is helpful because it provides antioxidants which help with detoxification.

May of my patients who are considering removing caffeine from their diet, express concerns that they might ‘lose their edge” or not be able to ‘stay alert’ throughout the day. If you are having these same concerns, please remember that our bodies and minds are not designed to be ‘on’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our bodies need rest to rebuild and re-energize.